Skip to main content
12:00 pm
author of eight books. interface culture was his first, 1999, emergence came out in '02. mind wide open in '05. the bestselling everything bad is good for you came out in 2005. the ghost map in 2006, the invention of air in 2008. where good ideas come from came out in 2010, and his most recent just on the market is "future perfect." mr. johnson, thank you for being on "in
12:01 pm
nybble welcome to the richard nixon presidential library and museum. my name is paul, i'm the active directer of the library. i appreciate all of you coming to one of our continuing author talk presentations. today we are very fortunate to have the really, the leading scholar on pat nixon, who is, by the way, born 100 years ago this year. marry brennan, who did much of the research here for her book is the chair of the department of history at the university of texas in san marcos. her specialty is post world war ii conservative movements, and
12:02 pm
she hoose twroin date three different books. those being "turning right at the '60s conservative capture of the g.o.p." with the wise mothers and the -- "conservative women and the crusade against communism" and the book we love around here pat nixon "embattled first lady." her work is an outstanding work, and -- i would like do you help me welcome her out to the stage to talk about her work. mary brennan. [applause] >> thank you, paul. it is such a great honor to be back here at the nixon library. as paul said, i did much of my research here. i feel very close to all of the people here. they were so helpful to me in learning what i did about pat. i would like that begin with a story.
12:03 pm
one evening in 1954, as a nix sob exited a dinner which president eisenhower was going speak they came across an indian woman sitting on a bench outside the hall. pat thought she recognized the woman asked if dick did. when he said no they continued down the stairs. halfway down she remembered the woman and made her husband return. she spoke with the woman and if they had met previously. woman replied they had pat asked about the stay in the u.s. and inquired what she was doing in the hall way. the woman explained she was returning to indian why in a few days and hoped to glimpse of the president. pat arranged to be given a seat at the dinner so she could hear the speech as well as see the president. nixon then left the hall to continue on to the previous engagement. i used the story to begin the talk because i think it brings
12:04 pm
to light a couple of key points i wish to bring to light about pat nixon and her public role and the role of foreign diplomat. pat met the woman during her travel as second lead. the traveling she did as first and second lead was the past of the job as a political wife. second, this woman was not the wife a ambassador or statesman, she was just a young woman who had come to the united states come out first to see the second lead and come to the united states to study. pat didn't limit her contact on the travels to important people. she treated everyone she met as if they were the most important person in the world. the people she met seasoned her sincerity and responded to it. third, she was happiest in the role when she could take action. the party the nixons were at and the engagement they were going were not as important at that
12:05 pm
moment as getting this visitor from india a seat at the presidential dinner. the greater scheme of things it's a small act but it left a lasting impression on the woman involved. the indian woman involved and on the women in the table that she was eventually seated at. that's how we know about the event. through a letter that someone who she ended up sitting with responded and wrote to pat later about it. for pat politics was her job. one she didn't always enjoy. while on occasion she was proud of the work and helping to raise funds for the party. she found many of the tasks frustrating and mind numbing. by the end of the first term she expressed the friends reentry to the work force. she wrote i would like to do part-time work rather than the useless work i'm expected to do. the thrill of meeting famous men and women and the glamour of white tie dinners wore off leaving only the tiring routine
12:06 pm
of constant evenings away from the girls, ielgd chatter with women she didn't always like. for someone that worked hard her entire life, she had. the situation could at times be intolerable. it was not the long hours or the physical -- challenges that weighed her down. she resented not being useful. not doing something meaningful. that is why foreign travel appeared to her. during the stripover sea she felt she was playing an important role. she was representing american interests abroad. her introduction to role as american representative came during her first year as second lay i did. when president eisenhower sent his vice president on a tour beginning in asia and continuing to part of the subcontinent. during the fall of 1953, president eisenhower told the vice president that he should take pat with him. now she realized that this trip was going to be work.
12:07 pm
it was going to be interesting. pat described it exactly the same words in a lettersha she wrote to the good friend next month. along with a minimal entee roughing that included a military aid, a flight sergeant, three press representative nixon's administrative assistant and the other only trip rosemary wood they embarrassed on the 42,000 mile journey. in a little more than two months they visited over fifteen countries, attended hundreds of state dinners, participated in tons of ceremonies and spoke with millions of people. the state department had briefed the group on the many countries and people they would be visiting. pat took these briefings very much to heart. in fact, one member of the group told reporter a few years later that pat had served as a group's walking encyclopedia. whenever they needed information
12:08 pm
about the country or culture, they would turn to her. she would have the information. her husband concentrated on the large are mission of reassuring american allies asian allies and friends clarifying the policy and assessing attitudes toward communism. while he did that, pat's role was to go out and meet the people. neither he or pat had interested in formal socializing, so he requested that official dinners be kept to a anyone mum. so they could meet with as different people as possible. pat recognized there was a job to be done as she wrote. she could help be caught up in the thrill of traveling. even her sadness of leaving the girls did not completely overwhelm her excitement. the harsh reality of travel combined with the little girl's enthusiasm for seeing new and different sites leaps off the pages of the diary.
12:09 pm
she recorded initiation ceremony as she crossed equator for the first time. quote, dick acted as king neptune and wore the crown designed by the crew. what fun. in atense -- arranged all male entertainment. quite risk cay. on the 14th of october she detailed the experience in a village in new zealand. district had to take part in the dialogue of the century. they had to participate in the custom of nose rubbing. although she said she felt faint when some of the them lined up for the session of nose rubs. they wanted to be good sports so we took it. she had more problems because she also visited the kitchen where the women were cooking the food they were going to be eating later on, and she said the kitchen was so dirty and unsanitary she was actually really quite leery of eating the
12:10 pm
food given to them. had learned the art of pushing food around on the food and covering it up. she was looking like she was eating without eating nipping. it would prove to be the case on oversea trips they would make during the vice presidential tours. they were crowded with official duty she was thrilling at visiting new countries. in early '56 they attended the moderation of the new resicilian president a city show called the most beautiful city she had ever seen and the party at the palace were fabulous. but she did find a client change quite a terrific adjustment. they went in january. there was a 75 degree climate change when they went in one day. in july of that year, the nixons set off on a another tour. she explained in a letter it was
12:11 pm
a fast and full trip. the course of one day, we were in three countries thailand, pakistan, and turkey. a lot her husband with government leaders she had her own schedule. in the end she wrote, it was a dizzy but happy that in such a short time so much could be accomplished. in november of 1958, the couple traveled to london where pat wowed much of the british press with the wardrobe and unspoiled manner. the following year they went to the soviet union and poll poll lane. -- poland -- argued the merit of communism and capitalism in an exhibition of american consumer goods. pat had her own agenda of visiting or fan inches and hospitals. she might have gotten more headline but the interaction with. the made an lasts embrace. there were all kinds of pictures
12:12 pm
of her handing out candy and bubble gum that knead to "life" magazine. perhaps more importantly the pointed questions too crew sheaf about the wife's absence from the festivity lead to her as well as the wives of ore soviet officials suddenly appearing at the events during the rest of the visit. they told one report she thought it helped to have a woman along. they can make friends in different ways than men. it was overwhelmed by the outpouring of cheers that created the nixon as they traveled through the street of poland. pat who was not easily raddled had to fight back tears according to one news account. when pat became first lady almost ten years later, her love of travel and her recognition of the important role if allowed her to play only increased. the wonder strucked traveler remained beneath the surface. she had become aware of the
12:13 pm
potential power of the position. during the five years of first lady she visited 32 countries around the world. never more than once. she accompanied her husband on the ground breaking trip to china and set new precedent as traveling solo as a official spokesperson of the united states. and repeating the task in 1974 aattending the swearing in ceremony. whenever she went she is a it arose from a sinner is desire to look beyond the dignitaries to the people of the cup she visited. in part, because of a connection with her own groups. she never forget how she was or where she came from. she was the daughter of a
12:14 pm
trucker who had supported herself since she was a teen. at one point during her husband's administration, she told a childhood friend that even she occasionally felt inadequate to the task, that quote, she was only pat ryan" end quote. the people she met were gracias she felt comfortable continuing the important work she and her husband were doing. in addition, since she came from a small down -- town she understand what a thrill it was for someone to shake the hands of the second or first lady or of the united states or receive a letter from the white house. as a result, her from her first trip as second lead through the white house years she attended formal dinner as she was supposed to. she insisted on having her own separate itinerary that went beyond the government sponsored approved women's socials. she made point seek out the institutions that affected win and children.
12:15 pm
ever the business teacher she jotted her reaction to the sites and people she met in shorthand on the official schedule. in salon during the vice presidential trip, she quote, went with to see hospital and sister home for the age. she commented that the old people were thrilled because nobody had been to see them. and the philippines she visited an or fan inch in a training center for learning trade which can be done in the homes. in south korea she went a republican of korea division hospital and gave out candy and cigarettes. her brief comment in the indicated the state of things. quote, in heat wounded on army cots with blankets. soiled bed clothes. end quote. during the first tour as second lady. she visited over 200 institutions that were promoting industry, training women to support themselves and children, set up neighborhood kitchens and dispensaries. because of her group made unscheduled stops, she felt they were able to quote, get the real
12:16 pm
picture. she concluded that in general, people can sense when another person is friendly and genuinely interested. that is what they tried to do to show them the people they were visiting that they were interested in them as people. someone once asked pat why she could appear to be so interested in all of these diverse people that she met. she said, that's because i am. she said, i look at the person i'm talking to and i know they have a story to tell and i want to hear that story. i'm paying attention to them while i'm talking to them. pat took her role as representative of the united states very seriously. she sold herself as part of an important official team. she certainly made something of an impression on the people she met. one constituent explained to pat, that her husband was on an around the-world business trip
12:17 pm
and run in to what he call the pat nixon trail. he wrote his wife that pat, quote, rang a bell in this part of the world at the time when americans were not very popular. and the american couple living in india sent a similar letter praising the couple for bringing quote, a fresh understanding of america end quote to people of india. president eisenhower praised both nixons. even the american press noticed pat's role on the tour. we invite in the new york journal american explain although she did not make any speeches or carry-on a high policy discussion, she bore her full share of the workload. her -- love of travel the openness to new people and places, and a quick smile and kind heart endeered her to the people she met and made her a wonderful, unofficial ambassador for the united states. in fact, in 1957 journalist
12:18 pm
easterly may labeled her the most effective ambassador of good will after accompanying them on a tour through africa and italy. and watching as she quote, -- and potent -- end quote. without talking politicses, pat managed to win over not only the quote, ragged women in the market but also [inaudible] who granted her an unprecedented formal audience. the goal, she told them, was to convince people to enjoy being here and interested in them. it was not the only one to see the importance in her role. by the time of the sowf jet trip, the last of the vice presidential one, pat as ambassador of good will had won over even the nighttimes. calling her a diplomat in high heels. they describe her as self-processed. self-made, orderly, and precease, the capital press club and organization of
12:19 pm
african-american news correspondents presented her with the international relation award in 1957. recognizing quote her good will activity among the people of eight african countries, they choose her as america's god substantiating -- outstanding ambassador of good will. they wrote to pat following a trip through europe during which he had been bombarded request for her presence on the next vice vice presidential trip. he praised her important and significant role in public affairs. of all of her responsibilities as second lady. the travel not only fulfilled the childhood dream, but had also allowed her to feel a useful and necessary part of an support enterprise. when her husband had first run for office, the nixons had been a team and pat had within a crucial player. as his career took off in different directions pat sometimes felt relegate to the sidelines. her work overseed reinforced she was still significant.
12:20 pm
not just to her husband's career, but to something larger. when he became first lady, foreign travel whether with the husband or on the own continued to play the vital role for pat. allow her to participate in the political realm in a positive way at the time when in other paths are limited. she spent much of her time in the white house working against political aid who not value her advice, opinion or presence. many treated her as a pop to be used for public perns appearances only. she faced challenging from a shifting social order as women's movement spread throughout the country. the super mom and super wife faced red call from the feminist for letting her husband push in to politic and more conservative press praised the willingness to standby the husband. pat, the woman hated the increased lack of private sei and longed for something
12:21 pm
meaningful do. traveling abroad took her away from the frustration from home and allowed her to be herself. even her husband who excluded her from most important policy decisions recognized her as an asset when it came to foreign policy. years later, he told former aid frank during a series of interviews that pat handled herself properly even during sensitive diplomatic conversation. that she might inned a inventorially overhear. she explained that she quote listened and nodded, but never made comment of her own. at the same time, however, he relied on her to notice things he did not because if he put it she was very observe about. giving her responsibility in small diplomatic task provided nix swoun cover on the the increasingly vocal feminists. she was a woman he could trust to do only what he expected her to do. pat's foreign traveling did her
12:22 pm
more than thed a adventure of visit newing place. it was a way of reconnecting with her husband and the dick of pat team. she had never been more apart of the life and work than when they traveled together. the circumstance had changes now they traveled with huge team of people. and feelings stward the u.s. had hard end. her husband's faith in the ability demonstrated by the willingness to send her off by herself must have gratified her. she seized opportunity to prove herself. her trip to peru in 1975, epitomized her value as a foreign ambassador. on may 31st an earthquake measuring 7.75 on the rick steer scale devastated about half of peru. killing about 50,000 people. mudslides followed the earthquake causing further damage.
12:23 pm
homeless, injured, and starving survives rushed to the coastal area in search of medical attention and news of loved ones. as news reports filtered back to the united states nixon prompted $10 million in aid and promising helicopter and army for the search and rescue. the american people had begun donating supplies to be sent to peru. pat wanted to help. during a weekend at camp david, they discussed the situation and dick raised the possibility of her personally delivering donation from the american people to peru. a week later, she flew to peru and met the wife of the president do deliver donation, visit the injured and homeless and view the damage. she took over 18,000 pounds of clothing, blankets and other goods as well as cash donation. during the brief stay, she
12:24 pm
accompanied the read there on the tour of the most devastated region. flying on a small plane sitting on only a repurposed kitchen chair with no seat belt. walking amid the rubble she hugs children and offered considerate to those who had lost everything. her genuine concern and sympathy did much to ease the attention that existed between the u.s. and peru since the election to power there. the main newspaper in lima noted profound significance of the passion. the human warmth, this is gone the norm of international courtesy. they appreciated the using and concern that she demonstrated in the senior sorrow. on the departure she was awarded the grand cross of the order of the son. even "the washington post which
12:25 pm
rarely had much positive to say admitted he had threaded her way among potential sources of trouble with skill. epitomizing the simple human response required by the tragedy the editorial continued she exceeded in communicating to the peeve began she met a desire to help. and do so with a great task for which she deserved much credit. if the trip to peru shows a potential for her to serve as good will pass. ambassador the trip to africa the following year showed her determination. in early january, 1972, pat set out on an eight-day 10-,000 mile trip to the african continent. she visited many places. the primary mission of the trip was to participate in the inauguration of william. the new president of liberia. for the first time, the first
12:26 pm
lady would be the official representative of the united states. as such, patted met privately with the president there as well as prime minister and the president edward of ghana and president felix -- [inaudible] sorry. the ivory coast. i think i murdered their names. i apologize. her official party of forty include the u.s. ambassador to liberia samuel as well as the reverend billy graham. they were ministers and mrs. johnson. the president of the johnson publishing company which published ebony and jet. in addition to the official meeting press conferences and speeches before political parties, the african treated pat and the team with a whirlwind of dinners and presentations. she took the responsibility very seriously. jewelry noted in the biography
12:27 pm
of her mother that she snuck away from the family activity to go over the briefing notes and organize the thoughts for the upcoming trip. the state department and the staff of the west wing prepared marks she went over there making changes where she felt necessary and highlighting points she wanted to emphasize. in liberia, she preesed her -- pleased her host by noting how impressed she was by the considerable development that occurred since the last visit in 1957. ghana, she traveled out in to the hills of a bury, to pay her respect to 83-year-old chief who she met during a vice presidential visit. he told here is he forged a friendship between the american and ghana people that not even a lion could break. before she left ghana, she spoke before the national asing vering a rare public political speech. in each of the three country she spoke with the leader about her
12:28 pm
husband's upcoming trip to china explaining he did not intend to normalize relations but to open a dialogue. she also reintegrated america's promise of financial assistance to aid and development and announced the creation of two graduate scholarships for women to travel to the united states to study. not her official pronouncement, however, that earned her the accolades either in the country she visited or back home. with her warmth, the enthusiasm, the genuine appreciation of and afiction for the -- affection for the people she met. in liberia, she gushed to reporters she could not wait to meet people. she certainly did that. she waded in crowds shaking hands, giving hugs, and patting backs. at the inauguration ceremony she gave the president a warm embrace. he called her a woman, quote, of courage strength of character, and fortitude of spirit, end quote. when a group of women presented her with traditional clothes
12:29 pm
rather than accepting it she stood up and began to try to tie it around the waist. the woman were shocked to realize it and got up and came up to help her and dressed her in the traditional clothing. pat's delight in the outfit and the willingness to model in front of the audience and the camera spoke volumes about the respect for the culture and the people she was visiting. and if you had a chance to visit the exhibit, you'll see there's a wonderful picture of pat in the blue head trees, you can get your picture taken. that, i think, is the most beautiful picture of pat nixon you can find. it speaks involveups about -- volumes how she felt about her ability to go out and meet these people and to play a role and to show them the respect. you see in her eyes in the picture that it was -- it was
12:30 pm
very much something. it wasn't something she was putting on. it was something that she believed in very deeply. all of the news photographs show pat with a huge grin on the face whether watching a traditional triable dance, listening to a speech, or traveling in motorcade or participating in a triable dance which she's doing in another photograph. pat returned home happy. heralded by the press. "time magazine" declared african queen for a week. and "the new york times" marvel they loved her everywhere. pat would make one more solo trip as first lady. in 1974 she attended the inauguration of the president of brazil and made a stop in venezuela. by this point, her credential as diplomatic asset had been well established. however, caught up in the midst of watergate scandal. they pay little attention to the travel itinerary of the first lady. it was a shame if you remember
12:31 pm
it is where the nixon had the terrible experience during the vice presidential years. this is one of the first trips back there, and even though the sense -- they did not relate the significance of her trip here. most of the attention on the husband's political problems back home. now 19 12eu7 h 72 was a highlight year for pat. in january she goes to of a company an has a wonderful experience. she come back from africa and in february they prepare for the ground breaking trip and in june they go to moscow. [coughing] excuse me. at peru she did not have to be flying solo to make a difference. while dick with diplomatic words and negotiated communiques, pat toured the country, met whatever
12:32 pm
citizens she was allowed to, and attended cultural events. .. by mid-197100 efforts have paid off and china extended an invitation to the president to visit taking. not only would nixon be the first u.s. president to visit the people's republic of china, but because of china's self-imposed isolation, one of
12:33 pm
the group of westerners who had ever been there. as a result, there was tremendous worldwide interest in the trip. wind chime decided to allow the american press to tag along with the president and mrs. nixon, people around the world followed the february 1972 journey with tremendous interest. it was a representative introduced americans to china, represent the american people to the chinese. if she had not already realize what a great response those she had on her shoulders, the briefing papers she got from the state department made it explicitly clear. empathizing the role as a unique opportunity to trip represented, to reestablish communication between the women of china and america, the state department
12:34 pm
reminded her that she would be the first leaving american woman the chinese had met. the intensive u.s. television coverage provided her with with unprecedented opportunities to influence the way which americans view the chinese, chinese women, and the social order. pat respond to the the pressure by intensifying the normal homework routine she followed before any trip. studying her state department briefing paper carefully, reading quotations from mao, learning useful chinese phrases of chinese, and worrying about her schedules. on most of the trip should take in both during the 1950s and so far as first lady, pat had insisted on attending more than the usual lady receptions. she visited hospitals, schools and other facilities that help women or the poor. this time she had very little control over what she could do, where she could go or who she could meet. she need not have worried.
12:35 pm
although she had the feeling shooting isolated from the public, she won over the people she did meet and dealt diplomatically with those who try to convert her. correspondent helen thomas recounted that when pat's guide into the young women from the young revolutionary committee would try to engage her in a political discussion, she would smile and say, oh, yes, i'm acquainted with his velocity. from the cooks in the kitchen of the peking hotel -- thank you -- vice-chairman of people's commune to the premier himself, the chinese melted under pat's warm smile and enthusiasm for experiencing new cultures. during her visit to the kitchen, with 115 cooks, she gladly sampled their creations, including a fiery stuff pickled squash. all reporters were quite impressed because some of them tried it and they couldn't eat
12:36 pm
it, but she did. sitting next to premiere at the state then, pat commented on the cute pandas drawn. when pat asked if he meant the cigarettes, he respond he met the pandas. pat gladly accepted the gift. nic sims also realized that talking to the prc, talking to the chinese leaders would worry the soviets when they came back from the visit to china, she had arranged they would also go back to the soviet union. as a result in late may, early june 1972, pat, dick, and not rushed traveled to moscow would take met with soviet leaders while pat followed her usual separate schedule. and it companies effort is times like mrs. lindley brezhnev, the soviet leaders had learned their lesson and brought their wives out when pat is going to be there. pat arrived on the subway, watched a rehearsal, a city with schoolchildren, and toured government department shall.
12:37 pm
she also attended a russian circus were a performing their startled her, a site so much out of the ordinary that the press reported on it in the american paper. as had become her pattern, pat whenever both the russian people and reporters who accompanied her. the russians as was the polls during the couple's visit appreciated the first ladies delight in the ballet come in the circus, her obvious affection for the schoolchildren she met and hugged, her easy manner with, was so wide with soviet leaders. in fact, at one point mrs. nixon grabbed the hand of this is brezhnev who was unused to the throng of reporters and crowds consolation around the women. pat's determination to stop and talk with people that come out to meet or see her also earlier the affection of the population. one incident except but her appeal to the ordinary people she encountered on her trip. during the nixon's stopover in warsaw, pat attended a chopin
12:38 pm
result when the crowd applauded as she rose to lead, she walked towards them intend to shake hands and talk to the people. her interpreter attempted to leader back to the official party. she refused to join the group until she'd waited into the crowd, men and women who responded very warmly with some men taking off the caps and others kissing her hand. for their part, reporters even the sometimes critical u.s. correspondence, were extremely complementary. the globe described her as a remarkable saleswoman, the london daily -- daily mail -- herald reporter got a warm feeling at the sight of mrs. nixon and mrs. brezhnev holding hands. pat earned the respect and gratitude of some other reporters by her behavior during their visit to the come departments are. throughout the trip, reporters had been forced about the soviet police who were guarding mrs. nixon to the situation came to head on the third day of the visit as pat walked through the
12:39 pm
store, hundreds crammed onto balconies or stood in adjacent isles to wait and catch a glimpse of a. reporters trying to cover the event found their views blocked by the soviet security detail. pushing became shoving became this flying to the air. pat said one reporter from the manhandled by the soviet officer by pulling the reporter to her and offering him a lick of her ice cream cone. her obvious distress of the situation from our attempt to remedy it did much to in open admiration of the reporters. so it in with another story that we in force as pat's love of travel, her openness to all the people she met including reporters, and her willingness to take whatever action was necessary. from our youngest days she listened to her father's stories of his avengers, through years of single women taking off on small excursions to the early years of her marriage to did as they share the love of visiting new places, travel intrigue that i'm integrated her and provided
12:40 pm
her with opportunities she might not have had otherwise. travel also provide pat with the means to transform the first lady's role. although at surface of the time often criticize her, for failing to focus on a specific cause away lady bird johnson had come or adhering to me or to closely mamie eisenhower, pat succeeded in pushing the limits of acceptable first lady responsibilities and behaviors, especially in terms of foreign diplomacy. she traveled more than any other first lady up to her time, and accompanied her husband on his groundbreaking trip to the people's republic of china. press reports of air actions of the chinese as she toured the country offered americans a glimpse into the formerly closed society. building on her experiences as secondly, pat refused to limit her official first lady itineraries to acceptable ladies formal teas and receptions. she wanted to visit hospitals and schools. our determination to meet with wounded american soldiers during
12:41 pm
a visit to south vietnam meant that she became the first first lady to travel to a combat zone. pat show the first lady was not just a ceremonial prop. she also traveled successfully on her own. her journey to following the earthquake brought to minister to the wounded and needy citizens of lima and helped to forge a new relationship between the two countries. when she attended the inauguration of the new president of liberia, she became the first wife of a sitting president to serve as an official representative to a foreign country. pat's enthusiastic response to the people she met and south america and africa serve the diplomatic purpose for her husband and security is open for future first ladies to explore. in fact, pat's initial success of handling diplomacy on her own letter taking additional fellow trips during her husband's terms in office. like almost everything is connected to richard nixon, pat's expansion of the role of first lady was lost in the midst of watergate.
12:42 pm
rather than celebrate her accomplishments, pat spender last months in the white house avoiding reporters and urging her husband to fight on. instead of the press inquiring about her next trip or commenting on her and being in a pants suit anyone's nixon, another first, the focus was on the growing scandal. even pat's obituary 20 years after the resignation, concentrate more on watergate and on her activities as first lady. pat never came to love politics or the political life. but as she had her entire life, she made the best of a bad situation. holding on her love for travel, our natural abilities, both are in the openness and 13 observation skills, pat open the door for the first lady to become an essenti part of her husband foreign policy team. she finally did find her niche in politics. thank you very much. [applause]
12:43 pm
>> i would be happy to answer any questions, if you have any questions. nobody has any questions? oh. >> when you were doing your research for the book did you contact the daughters for any input or insight that helps you gather any additional information that you didn't already find at the liber? >> joy actually helped me to gain access to the rest of her mother's papers, and i correspond with or by e-mail and asked it should be willing to do an interview. but she said that she had said everything that she wanted to say in her book and that unless a specific question, that she really didn't want to be interviewed. and i could not contact her sister. >> could you expand a little bit more on the first lady's agenda and why you think it didn't
12:44 pm
spark excitement like her other states because i think she became first lady of a difficult time. she had an agenda. or first cause was volunteerism, although she was also very interested in reading. and the volunteerism of something that was very dear to her because she did very much believe in people helping other people. but you have to remember this is 1969. the country is in tremendous turmoil, and so something like volunteerism was not going to be a cause that was going to catch on with the general public. she also did run into some obstacles but it was a very tense situation between the west wing and east wing, and so she did run into some issues in terms of finally being able to explore and find herself. she did have other things that she did domestically. although jackie kennedy gets tremendous amount of credit for redecorating the white house, pat actually did more of that. she hired a protocol officer
12:45 pm
from the state department, brought him over and the two of them went around the country making deals with different people, different museums to be able to get period pieces, correct period pieces in the white house, and to restore the white house. so the point that when jackie kennedy came back the first time since she had left in 1963, 1964, she commented on how wonderful a job of pat have done redecorating. i think it also took her a little while to find her stride, as i think she was just kind of moving in that direction. amidst all this, she kind of had a double whammy of shifting historical circumstance out in the public, and the problem she had within the demonstration in terms of being able to define her own path. i think the other reality is that she actually felt most comfortable traveling and meeting people and doing, you know, kind of being able to get out amongst the people.
12:46 pm
>> the two of them battled, did you mean when during the watergate, or after the presidency? >> well, i have to be honest with you, and i don't know if the press would appreciate nice thing is, but when i wrote the manuscript, and battled firstly was actually the chapter that dealt with the problems within the white house. the press, i named the whole book pat nixon, everyone in the white house which i thought that's what she represented, but they like the embattled first lady better, so the press wins. so that's kind of how that happened. >> word and then would you kindly speak of press -- pat o'bryan before she was mrs. nick?
12:47 pm
>> certainly. you want to talk about her childhood? >> yes. i was also like you to respond, was she a teacher? >> yes. she, actually she had a very, when i said at the end that if she had her whole life, she made the best of a bad situation, her mother died when she was 12, and she had two brothers, her father. she helped to take care of the house, and you can keep everything in order and then go to school where she got very good grades. it ended up through kind of a fluke of circumstances that she and her two brothers all graduate from high school at the same time. she got skipped ahead. one of her brothers broke his arms. someone else had other problems but it ended up there all graduate at the same time. they graduate right around the time their father became seriously ill. so they have to each find jobs to help support the farm.
12:48 pm
eventually deciding they needed to go ahead and sell the farm. they went on and then you're going to decide who was going to go to college to all three of them wanted to go to college. they decided that the one brother had a scholarship, he would go to college first. the other two would work. so she helped to work to support the brother, and at one point, there was a couple that hired her to drive them across the country. and the idea was she would drive them across the country to new york, visit some of her father's relatives, and they would buy her a plane ticket back and that's how they would pay her. that when she got commute and met the relatives, they ended up offering her, and one and ended up offering her a job. so she lived in new york by herself for a year. she worked in the hospital there. she had tremendous adventures come if you could kind of take, read between the lines in our letters to her brothers but she was having a great time. she flirted with the doctor. she reported to some of her relatives, wanted to marry her.
12:49 pm
she had adventures, she was working in a tuberculosis hospital, and during snowstorms they would go out and go sled riding, and somebody said archer afraid you're going to get ill? she said i don't worry about that. i think about the young boys, how this will make into. eventually her brothers wrote her and said we saved enough money, come back. she came back, she went to college. she was working on a business degree. she really had hoped to be what we would call today like a personal bar, a personal shopper. but she realized that they would take too long for her to work to wake up and she was a very practical woman. so she said i will get my degree, i'll get my teaching certificate as well. so she did. she got her teaching certificate and got a job at whittier. it was while she was at whittier teaching in the school their that she, she had, for the first time in her life had enough money and enough freedom to be
12:50 pm
able to take little trips that she wanted to take. she had some girlfriends that she was going visit and that she wrote to. she would go off on little excursions, but it's also while she is there that one of the older teachers says to her, we're doing a community play, and he would probably be a good idea if you are in this way. and that was back in the day when an older teacher told you, you should do this, you did it. and she been in theory before so this wasn't something far-fetched. she was in the georgia get a grip. dick nixon was in the theater group, and they met. now, i would also encourage you that if you have not been able, then the part of the pat nixon thing you really need to seek to be able to see a different side of dick nixon is to read the exit from the love letter. we have a tendency to think of him, and i have to tell you one of the most eye-opening expenses of doing my research was reading the love letters between the two of them. there was, there's just all of
12:51 pm
these letters and very playful writing back and forth to one another especially in. he was really chasing her. and he would sometimes, she would need a ride into los angeles so he would take her into los angeles and made she's going to meet somebody else there. you know, but he would take her and then they would go on, they would go on long drives and their go up the coast and to each take a book and they would get out of the car and have a picnic lunch and then they would each redone by. it was a very quiet kind of date, but eventually it kind of progress into something else. and they agreed to get married. so it's not necessarily, it's kind of one of those things that marriages go through i think, that in the beginning you have this very romantic kind of relationship, even when he first elected to congress and to write her letters, from his first trip abroad, the letters are filled with all of these visions for,
12:52 pm
this is what's going to happen when we come back. they have this wonderful nurse. they have this nursery. we can take a treasure down by. she can go there. we'll go see all the sights of europe. so for a year he promised to take her to europe. it didn't actually happen as a vacation is a 1963. but he was still promising that is going to happen. so does that answer your question? i think we're time for just one more question. >> i would be curious to know also that about her family, born in nevada? what did her father do there? why did he move to california? what were his parents like, her
12:53 pm
mother's parents like? >> okay, now we're getting into a tricky area. so, her father was the son of irish immigrants, and he had traveled around as an itinerant, he done a lot of different things to get it on a merchant ship. he would talk to her about his adventures, and he had been a minor. her mother was a first generation german immigrant, and her mother had been married before. her mother was, her mother came over as a child within and, ended up staying and eventually, eventually married a man named bender. they moved up to what dakota did was decide it was? was? ivory coast north dakota. moved up to north dakota, and he was killed in a flight up there. now, actually i tried very hard to find information about the floods that killed him. i called the archives. i called, spoke to the archivist
12:54 pm
and really could not find commit is a lot of information about her mother's first husband. from that marriage she did have two children. and then they moved, then she married will ryan, and they moved to nevada. actually several little towns in nevada, and he was a minor. but kate did not like this. she had lost one husband to mining and she didn't want to lose another. she was constantly putting pressure on him to give up the mining life, to move something, to become something else, to be a farmer, to be something else to be more stable and less dangerous. so eventually they moved to southern california where he continues to have dreams of kind of a finding gold, doing something that would get them, other than being a truck farmer. but it doesn't happen the way he wants it to. >> thank you all, and let's give mary brennan a hand.
12:55 pm
[applause] >> is there a nonfiction author or book you would like to see featured on booktv? send us an e-mail at or tweet us at >> we don't know whether franklin roosevelt ever heard about florence greenberg's unprecedented call for health care as a right. because even though he had endorsed the conference, he chose that time to go on vacation. fdr was action on a cruise. i guess we can't really blame him, probably a pretty well-deserved vacation, but three years earlier fdr had refused to include medical coverage as part of the social security act because he did not want to antagonize the american medical profession. he did send a message of support to the health conference, but not long afterward the outbreak
12:56 pm
of world war ii forced the president attention elsewhere. five years later on january 11, 1944 in his state of the union address, roosevelt spoke to the american people about the war and especially about the kind of peace the allies plans to establish after the defeat of fascism. he said that the one supreme objective for the future can be summed up in one word, security. and that means that only physical security which provides a safety from attacks i ed gresser's, it means also economic security and social security. the individual political rights of him which the united states had been built, roosevelt argued were necessary but not sufficient to guarantee true freedom and security. fdr then announced that economic bill of rights which is sometimes called a second bill of rights that include the right
12:57 pm
to a job and a living wage, the right to housing education and security in old age, and a right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health. so even though transport missed hearing florence greenberg's speech, we hear echoes of it in his second bill of rights. the idea of economic and social rights of essential supplement to political rights had started as far back as the french revolution. by the idea of a right to medical care was something much more recent. discretion of this kind of right became prominent in the 1930s and '40s, first of all because medical care itself was becoming more effective. it was starting to matter much more. in everyone's lives. by the '40s, the public knew about medical miracles like vaccination, penicillin, antiseptic surgery, treatments
12:58 pm
that could save lives and even extend life. and to withhold these miracles came to seem unjust. in medical care at this time is also starting to cost more than ever before. the average family could not afford to pay for hospital stay or a major illness, or the birth of a child just out of their wages. so medical care had become not just a matter of life and health, it was also becoming something that could cause serious financial hardship. that is why medical care became a matter of economic security as well as health security. in the u.s., demand for medical care as a social right originated in the workers movements represented by people like florence greenberg. they next came to national prominence in fdr's proposed second bill of rights, and
12:59 pm
finally they were adopted in the united nations universal declaration of human rights after world war ii. thanks in part to eleanor roosevelt who helped draft the un's declaration after her husband's death. today, more than 70 countries recognize a right to health or health care in their constitutions. virtually every industrialized nation has taken a step to influence these rights by establishing some type of universal health coverage for their citizens. with one major exception. >> you can watch this and other programs online at >> tell us what you think about our programming this weekend. you can tweet us at booktv, comment on her facebook wall or send us an e-mail. booktv, nonfiction books every weekend on c-span2.

Book TV
CSPAN November 22, 2012 12:00pm-1:00pm EST

Mary Brennan Education. (2012) 'Pat Nixon Embattled First Lady.'

TOPIC FREQUENCY China 9, United States 8, U.s. 8, Pat 5, Liberia 5, Eisenhower 4, Mrs. Nixon 4, Ghana 4, America 4, Florence Greenberg 3, Peru 3, Nevada 3, Europe 3, India 3, New York 3, Tweet Us 2, Paul 2, Pat Nixon 2, Jackie Kennedy 2, Johnson 2
Network CSPAN
Duration 01:00:00
Scanned in San Francisco, CA, USA
Source Comcast Cable
Tuner Channel 91 (627 MHz)
Video Codec mpeg2video
Audio Cocec ac3
Pixel width 704
Pixel height 480
Sponsor Internet Archive
Audio/Visual sound, color

disc Borrow a DVD of this show
info Stream Only
Uploaded by
TV Archive
on 11/22/2012